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Conversion & Optimizations

Attract Customers and Close More Deals with Social Selling

Cold calling can get frustrating at times. Not to mention it has been less and less effective for years now, as sales reps and experts can easily confirm.

There’s a report that says 92% of buyers say they delete emails or voicemail messages when they come from someone that they do not know. That means you’re left with a mere 8% of buyers who will listen to your cold-call pitch.

In light of this discouraging news, sales people may need to use a new approach to generate leads and gain new customers. A focus on social selling is one possible approach that may be more effective.

 

What is social selling, anyway?

 

Social selling is about using your social networks to find, engage, and nurture the right prospects, build trusted relationships, close more deals and make a profit.

 

Social selling

 

People often mistake social selling with social media marketing or social media advertising. While these are the responsibility of the marketing department, social selling actually falls in the hands of the sales department.

Sales teams should use social selling to educate their prospects and provide value by answering their individual questions and explaining aspects they are curious about.

It’s a completely different approach from the old sales model, which involved impersonal activities such as cold calling and sales demos. The average cold calling appointment rate is just of 2.5%  and, as pointed out earlier, 92% of buyers say they delete emails or voicemail messages that come from someone they do not know.

Social selling, on the other hand, is all about educating prospects via social media about how your company can help them achieve their goals and ultimately grow their business.

It’s important to remember that even in B2B, people don’t buy from companies, they buy from people. Behind every website, there are decision-makers who have a say on what products or services are being sold and acquired.

 

Is social selling really effective?

 

A study from LinkedIn shows that over 76% of buyers say they feel ready to have a social media conversation and over 62% of those B2B buyers are more likely to respond to salespersons who connect with relevant insights and opportunities.

What did the salespeople say in the same study?

Nearly 73% of salespeople using social media outperformed their sales peers, and 54% of social salespeople have tracked their social selling back to at least 1 closed deal.

Before we get to the DO’s of social selling, let me quickly share some important DON’Ts:

 

Social Selling don'ts

 

  • Infrequent logins. Social selling should be an ongoing activity, and you should monitor conversations daily and engage with your prospects regularly.
  • Not actually making the connections. Ok, you’ve logged in, scrolled a bit, read some headlines and you’re out. That won’t do it. Selling is about building relationships, not spending the most time on social media or having the most LinkedIn connections.
  • Pitching strangers. Don’t connect with a potential customer for the first time and hit them straight up with a sales pitch. Social selling is about nurturing prospects and building connections over time. Otherwise, you’re just going back to cold calling.
  • Engaging with prospects before doing any research. You should learn as much as you can about a prospect before you engage in any sort of interaction. Check out their online profiles, see what they like doing, what they read, what they’re passionate about. This will help you personalize your outreach.
  • Only sharing sales material. Try to be helpful by sharing content that your prospect will find useful and educational, especially if she is only in the first stage of the buying process.

Make sure you keep all of these DON’T’s in mind before creating your social selling strategy.

 

How to make social selling work

 

Now let’s get to the fun part: the DO’s. Assuming you already know who your ideal buyer personas are (and if you don’t, check out this article to learn all about buyer personas), here are some tips on how to make the most out of your social selling journey:

 

Optimize your social profiles

 

You should start by making your name and profile picture consistent across all the networks on which you’re present, to avoid confusion. After all, there can be more than one person online with the same name.

Cater your bio to each social network’s audience. Twitter descriptions are limited to 160 characters so you should use them wisely. Focus on sharing insight into what you’ll be talking about on Twitter, cross-promote other relevant branded accounts such as the company you work for, and include hashtags that your prospects may follow.

 

Rand Fishkin

 

In contrast to Twitter, LinkedIn allows you to add more information about yourself. You can add a short and catchy headline about how you help, add a summary about your overall professional experience, mention your higher education degrees, list your specific professional experience, add skills and endorsements, and so on.

Add your social networks to your email signature, business cards, and PowerPoint presentations.

 

Fish where the fish are – find the best networks

 

Join social conversations that are relevant to you and your business. LinkedIn is the go-to platform for B2B while Twitter is more customer service oriented, great for fast communication. YouTube can also be extremely useful as consumers nowadays often compare and review products by viewing its videos.

You might want to consider choosing a mix of the platforms where your current audience is spending time.

 

Social media

 

Don’t forget that you can find and share discussions on your social feed, on groups (Facebook, LinkedIn) and from searching hashtags related to your industry or product.

 

Research prospects’ needs before engaging

 

Take the time to learn as much as you can about a prospect before you engage with them.

Monitor everything your prospects write, read their bios, check any updates to their profiles, and analyze their connections. Basically, collect as much information as you can.  This will facilitate future engagements that are thoughtful and strategic.

 

Linkedin social selling

 

Did you know that LinkedIn can give you instant notifications when your prospects join? Rather than relying on manual searches for that type of prospect, you can set up a saved search. Make sure to make it as specific as possible by using the Advanced filters, to get the best results.

Another great LinkedIn tool is Sales Navigator, which allows sellers to import contacts from Salesforce. It then provides you with a detailed report on these prospects’ activities and can also recommend new leads based on its findings.

Twitter allows you to build lists (which are kept private) and segment them based on different criteria, like active accounts you’re working on, decision-makers, or current clients, or based on the funnel stage, so you can personalize your approach every time.

Another way to make sure you’re connecting with the right audience is by joining specific groups where your prospects also belong. Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats, Quora and so on will help you get a better picture of what issues your prospects are dealing with and what questions they have.

 

Be yourself

 

Drop the sales pitch. Try to be as helpful as possible in a genuine way; the pushy approach can scare prospects away.

While each social platform has its own unique environment and voice, you should stick to your true self, whether it’s friendly, fun, or trustworthy, and remain consistent across networks.

If you create and maintain a strong professional brand you will most probably receive more interest from prospects, as it shows you are a professional and active participant in your industry.

 

Post quality content regularly

 

You should strive to provide valuable content for your connections and followers on a regular basis, in order to build their interest and gather more interactions.  Sharing content, ideas, and opinions is all that social media is about in the first place, so always give more than you receive if you want to be successful.

You should create your own curated online newspaper for specific accounts using Paper.li/ Feedly. These are great websites that will help you find fresh content to share further.

 

social media sales

 

You can use tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule those posts in advance to save time and make sure you reach all time zones that are of interest to you. Certain types of content work better for certain days of the week or times of the year, making this scheduling especially helpful.

Also, it is very important to align your social selling efforts with your marketing team’s agenda. Always be aware of the arsenal of content the marketing team has, including blog posts, eBooks, webinars, datasheets, etc.

Share the success of your existing customers. Find case studies, success stories, and client testimonials and share them in a way that shows your genuine excitement for them, rather than relying on a “look what we did for you” approach.

 

Constantly nurture and provide value

 

Interact with your connections regularly, and not just to push them for the sales.

Did a prospect make a post about needing advice or help with something? Go on and offer your expertise and help them solve a problem. Did they just launch a book, or has their company launched a new website? Congratulate them on their success. Offer to introduce them to someone that could provide advice, introduce them to groups, or link them to discussions about which they might not know.

Spend at least 10 minutes each day to:

  • Accept connection requests and even send a personalized thank you to prospects who requested them
  • Respond to new messages
  • Check notifications and alerts
  • Follow new prospects
  • Check news and conversations
  • Engage: Like a few pieces of content, comment on some others, and share what’s worth sharing.

Add value on a consistent basis so you can become a trusted resource in your industry.

 

engaging on social media

 

While keeping your eyes on the brand new shiny prize of gaining new customers, don’t neglect your existing customers on social media. Don’t forget that it’s six times more expensive to win a new customer than to retain an existing one. Take time to ask them questions, nurture relationships, and make them feel valued.

 

Track Results

 

No social selling strategy is perfect, which is why you should constantly assess results and compare them against efforts.

Start by collecting insights on your social selling activity; see what type of posts and activities perform the best.

  • What time are posts getting the most interactions?
  • Is there a particular style of post or piece of content that is performing better than others?
  • Are LinkedIn users more engaged and receptive compared to Twitter users, for example?
  • How many LinkedIn replies to messages have you received?

Also, for LinkedIn users, the platform produced the first-of-its-kind social selling measurement called The Social Selling Index (SSI). It measures how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships.  I would say it’s a pretty good place to start in order to see how effective your activities have been, at least at a general level.

 

social selling index

 

Sales people can also ask their marketing team for data they’ve received from Google Analytics. You can see where a visitor comes from when first entering the website, and what triggered them to fill in a form or choose to sign up. Don’t forget to track the links to your website that you want to share on social media using the URL builder, to make it easier to track, sort, and analyze content and to link it back to something that you accomplished as a sales person.

 

Last but not least, you should exercise patience when it comes to expert social selling. Results don’t happen overnight. Use tools to measure results for a better understanding of what is working, but don’t forget that patience and commitment are key.

 

Have you tried social selling before? Care to share your thoughts, experience, or ideas?

The Fine Line Between Personalization and Spam – How to Get Mobile Advertising Right

When it comes to mobile advertising marketers have never had more control over how they reach their audience. As a marketer, you have access to a wide range of tools for personalizing marketing content.

 

But with so many options for reaching the right audience and so many ways to communicate your brand message, marketers are constantly walking a fine line between delivering the kind of personalized experience many users are coming to expect and spamming people in ways that are perceived as creepy or intrusive.

 

personalization

Source: pixabay.com

 

This guide will help you create personalized mobile ads that resonate with your audience without spamming people.

 

The benefits of a Mobile-First strategy

Most digital marketing works on the principle that the main point of contact users have with your brand online is through desktops and laptops, with people accessing your content from their home or office computers.

 

Mobile First Approach

Source: altexsoft.com

 

But the world of digital marketing has been completely transformed and we’ve entered a new era of mobile dominance.

When UK consumers are asked what is the most important device used to connect with the internet most people (48%) say it’s smartphones, with laptops and desktop computers collectively taking second place. In the US more than half (51%) of web browsing time comes from mobile.

 

By 2025 over 72% of people are expected to access the web solely by their smartphones. And what’s more, worldwide growth in eCommerce is largely driven by mobile, which accounts for 58.9% of all eCommerce sales.

 

Adapting to the new era of mobile dominance

To win in the era of smartphone dominance you need to adopt a “mobile-first” strategy.

Rather than seeing mobile as just one of the ways to reach your audience, you should think of it as the primary way to reach your audience. Your digital marketing design should all work to serve this purpose.

 

For starters, you need to have a website that is fully responsive, which means that it adapts to suit the device by which it is being accessed.

The primary question about your website should be, does it work on mobile?

It’s no longer acceptable for mobile to be an afterthought, it has to be fundamental to the way you think about advertising.

 

The user focus is shifting to mobile

Smart brands are realizing two crucial insights:

  1. The user experience (UX) is an essential element when it comes to selling your products and selling your brand
  2. The UX focus needs to pivot towards mobile devices.

 

So what are the most effective ways to reach your audience via mobile?

There are two main planks to a solid mobile-first marketing approach.

These are… mobile ads and push notifications.

 

Mobile ads

When it comes to mobile ads it’s all about creating content that resonates with your target audience and that is relevant to the context in which they are delivered.

For example, promoted tweets need to work in the context of the unique features of Twitter, taking into account the way content is created and consumed and the language and etiquette of the platform.

 

This is true with any other social media platform that you are advertising on. They each have their own formats for content, their own hidden rules of behavior and their own sets of user behaviours and expectations. Get these wrong at your peril!

 

There is of course much more to mobile advertising than social media, with channels like:

  • Email
  • Apps
  • Websites and progressive web apps (PWAs)
  • SMS
  • Etc…

To use each channel effectively you have to understand the context of each one.

 

Push notifications

The second big way to reach people on mobile is through push notifications.

Users have to subscribe to your push notifications via your website or app (this happens by default with Android, but requires an opt-in via iOS).

 

Push notifications

Source: appinstitute.com

 

People don’t want to get random notifications, they want to get predefined content.

So when you motivate people to sign up for push notifications you have to let them know what they will get when they subscribe.

Amazingly, most sites and brands don’t personalize push notification opt-ins, so if you do this you will get solid results and be a step ahead of the competition.

 

A survey by Localytics found that 49% of people prefer push notifications to be based on their own stated preferences rather than on their in-app behaviour and that these preference-based notifications would encourage them to use the app more.

 

preference-based notifications

Source: info.localytics.com

 

There is a fine line to walk between personalization and intrusive spam.

The Localytics results also show that users are often split on whether a certain form of personalization would encourage them to use the app more or less.

 

For example, despite 32.5% of users reporting that apps that track in-app behaviour and deliver content based on that would make them use the app more, nearly the same amount of people (29.2%) said such personalization would make them use the app less.

 

The best way to get around this problem is to make sure that users can choose how their mobile experience is being personalized, for example adding an opt-in screen to your mobile app asking how users would like push notifications and marketing content to be personalized.

 

The importance of mobile personalization

To get the right balance between personalization and creepy “they know too much” reactions from users, expectations, and context are key.

Mobile marketers who get this balance right are reaping the rewards.

 

90% of marketers say that personalization is a significant contributor to profitability, according to Google. And it’s not just marketers who believe personalization is important. 61% of people actually expect brands to tailor their experience to their preferences. What’s more, 46% of consumers prefer to use their smartphones for the entire journey from research to purchase.

 

Context and personalization

The mobile app Drippler is designed to analyze the hardware and OS of your smartphone and deliver users useful tips, tricks and app suggestions. It also analyzes the content users read in-app and tracks other in-app behaviours to provide a highly personalized user experience. It is a hit with users and has had over 5 million downloads.

 

Ad Context

Source: techglimpse.com

 

Drippler gets personalization right because its data and behavior tracking is relevant to the service it is providing; troubleshooting your smartphone to help you get the best out of your mobile experience.

If a weather app acted in the same way it might feel intrusive because it wouldn’t be providing a level of personalization that is appropriate for the context. So when it comes to personalization, context is king.

 

How to personalize mobile ads without spamming people

Mobile marketing offers a wide range of channels through which to engage your audience, from search display ads, to in-app ads, video ads, social media promotions, SMS, push notifications, geotargeting, QR codes, and more.

Developments in audience targeting and segmentation, as well as data tracking and artificial intelligence, give us unlimited possibilities for mobile ad personalization.

 

But that also means there are many, many more ways to spam people than ever before, and it’s never been easier. For many marketers, this temptation is too hard to resist, but it’s a counterproductive strategy that will ultimately drive people away from your brand and make it extremely hard to build up a loyal customer base in the long run.

 

So here’s a list of spammy things to avoid…

Sending too many messages – there needs to be a solid rationale for each marketing message you send. Ask yourself why you’re sending a particular message. If the answer is ‘because I can’ you’re probably sending spam.

 

Sending irrelevant content – despite the many ways it’s possible to personalize mobile ads many brands still send irrelevant content rather than taking the time to segment their audience. You should only send content you believe will resonate with your audience segments.

 

Sending useless information – every piece of content you send to your audience has to have some practical value for them. Sending updates about how brilliantly your company is doing may be a tempting flex, but does your audience really care? There’s a difference between saying, “look how brilliantly we’re doing,” and “because we’re doing so well we’d like to offer you a special discount…”.

 

Ignoring communication preferences – different people like to be contacted in different ways. SMS might be really convenient for some people and incredibly intrusive to others. So you should ask users about their communication preferences and always respect those preferences.

 

communication preferences

Source: uxdesign.cc

 

How to improve your mobile advertising

Making improvements to the way you execute mobile marketing is a solid way to avoid spamming people.

As a general rule of thumb, the more care and attention you pay to the kind of content you create and how you distribute it the less spammy your marketing behaviour will be and the more effective your mobile marketing will become as a result.

 

Here are some tips on how to avoid mobile spam by improving your mobile advertising strategy…

 

Diversify content creation

Too much of the same thing becomes boring, and in the marketing world, too much of the same thing becomes spammy.

So make sure you actually take the time to create a range of content for each of your mobile marketing campaigns.

 

Marketing guru and entrepreneur Garry Vaynerchuk argues that brands need to be creating upwards of 100 pieces of content a day to take advantage of the new era of marketing, an era that has been shaped by the proliferation of user-generated social media content, an era where people expect meaningful communication of ideas and values, not the digital equivalent of junk mail.

 

Garry Vaynerchuk

Source: slideshare.net

 

Bring value to your audience

In the old days of marketing marketers essentially said this to their audience:

“Hey, if you buy this product you will get all this great value!”

 

But today’s model doesn’t work like this. You need to instead be saying this to your audience:

“Hey, this piece of content is packed with stuff you’ll find really valuable, check it out!”

 

Can you see the difference between the two approaches? One offers value upfront and one promises value if users buy. Offering value upfront wins all the time.

 

Once people engage with your content (and they’ll only do this if they like it!) they have entered your sales funnel and you can then start weaving your calls to action into your content to nurture your leads on their customer journey. But the era of opening with a hard sell is basically dead. Instead, a series of soft sells should be offered to your audience to get them in the mindset to buy your products or services.

 

Properly segment your audience

The best way to make your mobile marketing campaigns more effective is to send relevant content to targeted audiences. The way to target your audiences in a relevant way is to create audience segments based on data you collect from your users. Once you’ve segmented your audience you can then only send relevant content to people. This will make your ads far less spammy and make them more effective.

 

Be smart about personalization

To go about personalizing your mobile ads in the right way you need to start with a solid foundation of content. You should clearly present personalization options to your audience upfront. This could be the first screen they see when they download your app, or part of your signup forms when you capture user data.

 

You should also make sure your notifications clearly explain what users will get from them. For example:

“To give you the best user experience this site would like to send you notifications based on your browsing history.”

OR –

“Sign up to push notifications to get the latest offers relevant to you!”

 

If users know how you are personalizing their experience and they’ve signed up to it then they won’t feel like you’re intruding on their privacy. It’s as simple as that.

 

Personalization is the future, spam is the past…

We’re in a new world where the user experience is the most vital marketing asset you can create. It’s essential that mobile advertising puts the user first, and understands and respects their expectations and preferences.

 

To get mobile personalization right we have to understand the principles of informed consent, managed expectations, and clear, open communication. Once we start on this basis we find ourselves in a position to take advantage of sophisticated mobile personalization strategies that will deepen your relationship with your audience and provide the maximum value and inspiration on their customer journey.

 

About the Author

This is a guest post by Izaak Crook, the Head of Marketing at AppInstitute, a SaaS App Builder platform that allows anyone to create their own iOS and Android app without writing a single line of code.

Stand Out, Maximize and Socialize: Top Tips from CommerceNOW 2019

We recently hosted another smashing CommerceNOW online event where experts shared their best marketing, sales, and eCommerce tips in real-time with over 1,200 professionals who signed up for the event. We’re continuing our series of quick summaries of some incredible sessions from CommerceNOW further in this blog post. For the complete experience, however, don’t forget you can watch all the recordings here.

6 Automated Emails You Need to Send to Boost E-Commerce Sales

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What is PSD2 and What Does Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) Mean for You?

Initially introduced in January 2018, the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) has by now taken effect in the entire European Union in the local legislation.

Industry Buzz – July 2019

Hi, sellers! We’ve rounded up ten resources that will inspire you to improve your online business. Whether you choose to adopt a subscription model, to improve your marketing strategy, to change your eCommerce provider or invest more in content marketing, get ready to set your business up for success.

Below are the resources to help you get things moving.

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